"Coercing" the Illinois Fifty-Second.
The St. Joe Journal made its boasts some days ago that the 52d Illinois Regiment, when about leaving St. Joe for this State, were prevented from departing by Gen. Loan, a Missouri Brigadier, until its officers delivered up the contrabands whom they were trying to carry off, to Col. Smith, to be returned by him to their masters, if he thought proper. Most of the pro-slavery papers copied this account with a gleeful chuckle, as if it was a great achievement on the part of Gen. Load, his Missouri regulars, and his "Home Guards." The following statement from one of the members of the 52d puts the matter at rest, and in quite another light. The brave disarrangement of a switch, which was Gen. Loan's coercive process, was not quite enough to grace Illinois troops.
Editor Whig & Republican.
DEAR SIR: A story is going the rounds, extracted from the St. Joseph (Mo.) Journal, in relation to the affair between the 52d Ills. Regiment of volunteers and the Home Guards of Missouri, concerning a couple of "contrabands" belonging to our regiment. The article contains many errors, but none worth refuting, except the idea that is conveyed by the language of the piece, vis: that the 52d had to deliver up the negroes, and that the Home Guards obtained their point in not letting the darkies leave the State. In fact, the heading of the article is to the effect that the 52d Illinois was coerced by the Missouri troops, when the truth is that it was right the other way. And I can say for the information of Gen. Bruce of the Journal, and likewise of the Home Guards, that the two negroes aforesaid did leave St. Joe and the goodly State of Missouri, and are now at Cairo. The Illinois troops can "hold their own" any day with Missouri Home Guards, or any other class of coercionists.
J. P. S. of the 52d.